Danedri Thompson
[email protected]
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe hosted dozens of public and appointed officials at a workshop on the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA).
More than 90 people, including Gardner City Council members Larry Fotovich and Randy Gregorcyk and city administrator Cheryl Harrison-Lee, attended the two-hour presentation.
“Several city officials have expressed confusion over the scope and application of the KOMA and KORA laws,” Howe wrote in his invitation to city and county officials. School board members did not receive invitations to the event due to space constraints.
“It is our responsibility to promote transparency in local government by acting within the parameters of KOMA and the (Kansas Open Records Act),” Howe wrote.
Howe’s office is responsible investigating and reporting allegations of KOMA and KORA violations to the Kansas Attorney General each year.
Howe found the Gardner City Council violated KOMA on two occasions in the summer of 2011.
That investigation was the result of a complaint regarding Mayor Dave Drovetta’s use of an email asking council members if they would be willing to increase the maximum salary for the then-vacant city administrator position.
KOMA prohibits serial emails between members of a governing body, and participants at the Oct. 18 workshop asked several questions about digital communications. A general rule, Howe explained to participants, is do not hit “reply all” in emails.
KOMA violations are subject to fines not to exceed $500 per incident, but Howe did not pursue civil penalties against the mayor and council.
The district attorney’s office is currently investigating complaints that the Shawnee City Council violated KOMA, and Howe recently determined that the city of Mission violated KOMA earlier this year.